Although a passenger train is little more than commuter transportation in many countries, in Europe, the orient and Asia, train travel is the method of travel most people use. Since passenger rail transportation is so popular the rail networks are extensive, schedules are convenient and the overall service quite good.
Of course everyone has seen photos of overloaded trains in India and Asia with passengers riding on the roof of the cars or clinging to the sides. Unsafe to say the least. Anyone not knowing the context of such photos or videos probably shudders at the though of being squeezed into train cars like a sardine in a can, never mind forced to cling for dear life to the roof or sides. The truth is there are countries with overloaded train services at certain times of the day, or on specific routes. The morning rush hour in populous cities like New Delhi, India, is no less hectic than it is in Tokyo, Japan. In both cities public transport is overwhelmed at peak hours. What no one photographs is the off hours when there are numerous vacant seats. It’s another of the misconceptions people have about travel because the information they receive is delivered out of context and presented in such a way as to misinform, rather than inform.
Plus, most of the people seen riding on the exterior of rains, trolley cars, and even buses are doing so by choice. No one paid to drive a bus or trolley car can stop every few meters to chase people off the exterior of their vehicle. Even if they did, those they chased off one would just climb onto the next one going into the same direction. Likewise, no conductor in his right mind is going to climb up on the roof of a moving train to check passengers’ tickets. So these people are riding for free, which is the real reason they’re clinging to the exterior of moving vehicles and trains. They also cling onto delivery trucks too, but no one bothers to take photos or videos of them doing so. The reason is that they know they are hitching a ride on a truck, but assume with public transport it’s being done because there’s no option. It’s a rather bigoted assumption, based on arrogance at best. But that’s the point of becoming well traveled and learning about the countries and people you visit. Then when you see such photos or videos you’ll immediately wonder what time of day it is, or which route is so busy, rather than assume there’s so little public transport people risk their lives clinging to he outside of moving trains and vehicles.
The reality is that almost all rail services today have the option to pre-book berths or seats on trains. It costs a little more, but if having a seat is important to you the option to have one guaranteed exists. Of course there are the occasional seat squatters, but they’re usually trying to save money by not pre-booking a seat and will vacate when asked.
Below is a list of all countries. Those highlighted with coloured text have passenger railroads…
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
If you’ve taken a train to see the sights anywhere in the world, please share your experience with other travelers by adding a review in the comment section below. Thank you!